Gold Keeper is a simple new arcade game which is guaranteed to steal a few minutes of your time, so long as your gold doesn’t get stolen first. Developed by iDiwo Team.
Gold Keeper is designed as an arcade style beat’em up that puts you in the shoes, er, hooves of a demon looking to keep his gold from the greedy hands of the local human village. Sounds backwards, doesn’t it? In this case it’s not, and that’s part of the charm of the game, but we’ll get to that later.
Don’t think you want to be standing there, little buddy.
After putting an emulated joystick and single button in the corners of your horizontal iPhone, the game begins. The entirety of the game takes place in a single square room with holes in each corner, and your gold in the middle. Your demon is free to roam wherever he pleases, and your single button executes his basic attack. From the corners of the screen, two types of villagers will enter: armored and unarmored. The unarmored villagers go straight for the gold and then attempt to leave from the hole they came in, and the armored villagers are in it for your blood. The object of the game is to kill the villagers before they can leave with any of your gold, or before they kill you themselves. Your health is dictated by a single bar on the left end of the screen, and another bar, your special attack gauge, is on the right. The latter is done by pressing a large orange button next to the special attack gauge once it fills up, and when performed your demon will unleash a single-hit kill move to all enemies in a certain radius of you. Villagers will occasionally drop one of two items which are only meant to refill those two meters. That’s it. Sounds simple enough, right? Well it should, because this game isn’t meant to be complicated – just mindless arcadey fun.
As the game progresses, things will gradually get more difficult. More villagers will spawn at a time, and every minute or so a message will appear stating that villagers have gotten stronger. By this, they mean that they’ll either be hitting you harder or be able to take more hits than before. This increase in difficulty is offset by the fact that your demon gets powered up over time, as well. After a few minutes he is equipped with a hammer – giving him more reach and more power – and a few minutes after that is given a hatchet. The hatchet is the final weapon you receive, and certainly makes killing villagers that much more bloody and satisfying. However, from that point on the difficulty will rise exponentially, as you aren’t given anymore power-ups to balance the rising power of the villagers.
As a game with such little depth, it’s apparent that it’s only goal is to supply the player with short time wasting sessions, and I can proudly say that the game achieves this gloriously. While you won’t come away from this gameplay reflecting on how great it was, it will certainly distract you from that short-but-smelly bus ride or final stretch of Philosophy 101.
Oh snap, owned.
Gold Keeper goes the extra mile in terms of one dollar games and provides you with fully 3D polygonal visuals. This is a nice surprise, and the overall experience benefits greatly from it. Simple arcade games can suffer if what you’re looking at isn’t visually appealing. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with Gold Keeper. It’s color palette may not pack a punch (the colors you’ll be seeing are mostly gray and red), the art is inspired, and the visuals and movement are smooth. Blood spews from every villager you murder, and the special attack actually comes with a nice explosion effect. The terrain of the cave has a great texture that stands out and gives great realism to the otherwise comical demon endeavor. Another nice surprise was in the animation work of the demon. Even though he only has one basic attack, the developers put in multiple animations for this attack (each with their own range and hitbox properties) so that the game was just a little less repetitive. Little additions like this are much appreciated, as it shows that even though the price of the game is dirt cheap, there was some love and effort put into it that makes it feel like a more expensive one.
A single track fills up the game’s soundtrack, and while it’s not a stand-out piece of orchestral work, it’s simple, and works well with the tone and style of the gameplay. The ability to listen to your own music while slicing villagers for minutes on end would’ve been nice, but this feature unfortunately isn’t available (I still wait for the day that this becomes a common feature…grr). Sound effects do the job: slicing a villager with a hatchet sounds like slicing a villager with a hatchet. Unfortunately, the game’s biggest downfall is in the voice of the demon. I’ll keep this simple: I don’t want to hear my character reciting a famous Joker line from The Dark Knight every time I kill someone. There’s a lot of killing going on in this game, and hearing those words repeated over and over again almost made me turn my entire phone off. Fortunately, we have the option to turn just the sound effects or music off if we desire, so this drawback can be remedied at a cost.
Simplicity never means perfection, and Gold Keeper is no different. The game does suffer from some frustrating flaws that give the game difficulty that I don’t believe was intended by the developers. One example of this is the fact that the player must always keep a keen eye on his health bar, as it’s very difficult to tell when your demon actually receives damage. There is no consistent sound or visual cue that represents health depletion aside from the meter itself, and this often left me surprised at how far down my health was without even being aware of it. The second and more concrete example is the useless special attack. The special attack is meant to work as a means of clearing large amounts of enemies that are close to you for tactical or desperate means, but it doesn’t work for either because the attack takes about 10 seconds to come out. All the while, the enemies that are close to you are hacking away at your health, and even if you manage to kill them before you die, you’ll be lucky to recover even a fraction of that from a health drop. On the bright side, if you manage to hold your own and believe you’ve accomplished a great feat, the game does offer worldwide leaderboards, so if you’re looking to turn this game into more than what it’s meant to be, you’ll at least be able to show off your talents.
Minor flaws aside, Gold Keeper is a pleasant (or should I say devilish) game which holds firm it’s arcade principles and uses them to deliver a solid experience that will easily kill time…and villagers. iPhone games are already in the thousands, and out of those thousands, it’s simple, casual games like Gold Keeper that show the virtues of mobile gaming. For your 99 cents, you could do a lot worse.